see p.4 Contact
"You have a unique style. Nobody plays the way you do. Nobody."
-Phil Lawrence, mandolinist & composer
I really appreciated that public evaluation from Phil to his audience while playing Psalm For Charlie on his radio show KKOW-FM in 2015 and again in 2016. A lovely mandolinist & teacher, husband & father. He would know: he's seen me play since I showcased wild "punk Bach mandolin" in 1977 at Temple Beautiful, MCing for "It's a Beautiful Day", Jello Biafra and other now-famous bands. After 40 years, I've mellowed--a little.
Playing mandolin = "taking the listener on a journey". These compositions were chosen--as journeys for BOTH musicians & listeners--with a 'simple ensemble'. When some version (from trio to octet) plays shows, we alternatively relax and excite our audience. What joy!
Recording Psalm For Charlie, however, was a journey of sadness and hopeful. The moment before we recorded the final tune, I asked pianist Randy Craig and bassist Richard Baum fervently, "Let's really make this a psalm for Charlie". Charlie Haden had died suddenly only a month before...and I never recovered. Our solos were played with sweet solemnity. The bass solo wreathes with sadness, evoking the moment when the soul reluctantly leaves the body. On my final solo, I just cried and cried all the way through. I went to a very deep place. That's what you hear, a precious moment. A Psalm For Charlie sent him across the divide.
Charley Haden dedicated his life to a revolutionary union of jazz & politics, a practice I share profoundly with him. Charlie's seminal work helped me to see, to reflect, to take a chance, to be fearless, to listen deeply, to share, to play with purpose. Induce the audience to close their eyes & listen.
Yip Harburg once said, "Revolution starts at the end of a breadline". For over 30 years, members of this band have played at St. Martin De Porres in The Mission at Thanksgiving & Xmas Eve meals for up to 400 homeless folks. Better than any breadline, we get homeless folks well-fed, happy and dancing! Thank you Brother Charlie. We will continue your legacy.